To the Point Home Services Podcast

The Home Services Podcast That Gives Back

Episode 53: Is Ecommerce the Future of Home Services

January 19, 2021

Episode 53: Is Ecommerce the Future of Home Services

Published: January 19, 2021
Share:

With over a decade serving the home services industry, RYNO has seen technology revolutionize the trades. We’ve also seen contractors fall behind and lose out when they either aren’t willing or able to anticipate the future. That’s why we feel so strongly about our strategic partnership with Contractor Commerce, and why we absolutely had to bring Will Housh on To The Point.

Will is the President and Founder of HVAC Technologies, which has many subsidiaries including Same-Day Supply and Contractor Commerce. Same-Day Supply has probably shipped more filters to consumers than anyone else out there, and is both part of how Will stayed ahead of the curve and what gave him the expertise and drive to create Contractor Commerce as a tool to help future-proof contractors of all sizes.

Raised in the Cincinnati/Dayton, OH, area, Will was born into the trades. His grandfather was in the industry, selling his full mechanical commercial and residential company to his father, and eventually to Will himself. He grew up around heating/cooling/plumbing/electrical service, and running the company for several years gives Will an insight into the trades that is much-needed for running Contractor Commerce in a way that best serves our industry.

The Beginning: Online Filter Sales

While running his 3rd generation family trades company, Will was already looking to the future. It seemed obvious to Will that more and more people would be shopping online. He was shopping more online, internet speeds were increasing, it was more convenient, and everything was headed in that direction. Will had the idea of selling furnace filters and some other parts online, and in late 2005, started dipping his toes into Ecommerce. It wasn’t long before Will had his first sale, and before long, the business took off.

Over time, Will saw Ecommerce fall out of the hands of contractors like himself and over to retailers that aren’t in the trades. Today, the fear of Amazon and other major online retailers taking over equipment sales and forcing contractors into a labor-only position without any leverage is a major concern. Much like having a website is unmistakably vital nowadays, Will feels having an online store is just as important for contractors.

A few years ago, Will was looking around and noticed that every other industry besides the trades sold products and services online. It was unheard of for a contractor to have an online store, and the closest thing being offered was just a contract form. Customers wanted it, the tools were there, and Will had the knowledge and experience needed, so he started Contractor Commerce to help bring contractors into the modern age of online sales and services.

Contractor Commerce

Contractor Commerce is a plug and play ecommerce solution that seamlessly integrates into a contractor’s website so that they can have their own online store. You can buy filters, sell maintenance agreements, tune-ups, take orders for system installs and more, all right on your existing website.

Not Just for Filters

Online filter sales are more or less where the journey started, but it’s far from the only thing Contractor Commerce can do. The same way people like ordering physical products online, they like to order services online, too! Almost every contractor has a page on their website dedicated to their maintenance plans talking about the different tiers and benefits with a “Contact Us” button. Then, the consumer submits that form and hopes and waits for a return call. Why not make that CTA button say “Buy Now”? That’s what they came to do there, after all. People aren’t browsing an HVAC website just for fun. Contractor Commerce is giving your customers the ability to purchase one-time services like tune-ups and drain cleanings as well as recurring maintenance agreements and parts, systems, and more the way they want to—online!

Equipment Sales

What Will has learned in 15+ years of Ecommerce is what he calls conversion optimization. You have to make the process of navigating your website and getting to that purchase button fast and easy; without any friction. For system sales, Contractor Commerce gives the customer a very simple questionnaire with a few simple questions about their home and situation. There’s no industry jargon and lingo like BTUs and tonnage to scare them off. Then, their algorithm matches the customer up with a set of good/better/best systems. The customer can compare these systems side by side with pictures, pricing, description, scope of work, efficiency, warranty, add-on options, financing options, etc. Whether they want to request more information and become a lead for that contractor or purchase the system right there from their cart and place the order, they can do that right then and there!

Site Visits are Still Integral

Of course, with Will’s contractor background, he isn’t naive enough to think that the customer can answer a few simple questions, put a system in their cart, and the contractor can show up the next day with everything they need to do the job. There is an interim step, and that’s a site visit to verify the job, do a load calculation, and make sure the customer answered the questions correctly. This can cause some contractors to be weary of putting their pricing online, not to mention the fear of being undercut by competitors. While Contractor Commerce can toggle pricing on and off to accommodate the wishes of each individual contractor, Will notes there are some clear benefits to putting at least a general price online. The customer is going to find out the price somewhere, so why not be the contractor that gives them what they’re looking for? It takes a little bit of risk and maybe your competitor will try and undercut you, but by giving the customer what they want and serving them the way they want to be served, you’re building trust. You get a leg up on the competition and in all likelihood will beat them to the punch and get the sale.

Improving the Customer Experience

The end result is a more productive, educated conversation between the customer and the contractor regarding installation and equipment. The customer has already done their online research, and isn’t being sold on anything. Will compares it to going into a restaurant and being handed a menu; the customer is looking at their options and picking versus being thrown a sales pitch! During the site visit, you can really nail things down with the customer. You might get on site and realize the customer has ordered a larger system than they need, and you can lower the price. Or maybe there are ductwork modifications that need to be done, or they’re interested in adding a whole-house HEPA filtration, and the price can be adjusted as needed. Still, you’ve taken most of that sales tension out of the process and you can give your customer what they need with the experience they want.

It’s also important to note that Contractor Commerce isn’t disrupting the way you operate your business or the chain between manufacturers, distributors, and contractors. You’ll be sourcing the equipment through your supply chain just like you’re doing now. Contractor Commerce doesn’t stock or sell equipment, it just gives contractors a sales channel to bring in more leads and more sales with better technology and a modern customer experience.

Today and the Future of HVAC

It’s the beginning of 2021, and we’ve seen the industry evolve and more online more and more recently. Many contractors have lost out on business because of this transition, and Contractor Commerce is helping the trades take that back. Will asks contractors to think about the future, and whether more or less of purchases will be made online. The answer seems pretty obvious.

If we start with what customers want and work backwards, it’s easy to see what needs to be done. So many contractors start with what they’re doing and move forwards from there, but it’s much more beneficial to consider how the customer wants to be served and use that as a starting point for implementing procedures and technology. Contractors that do this are going to continue to differentiate themselves and thrive going forwards in the marketplace.

Looking Ahead

We encourage contractors to think long-term about the right choices and philosophy for your company. What’s going to be best for your customers and employees? With major players already targeting the home services space for direct equipment and parts sales, we don’t want to see a future where contractors are forced out and turned into nothing but labor contracts fighting for a foot in the door. We want local contractors to win, be ahead of the curve, and stand ready when the inevitable evolution of the marketplace manifests in full.

If you’d like to learn more about Contractor Commerce, you should visit their website, where you can request a demo and get more details about how it all works.